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Unlike the other forms of interaction, mutualism is an essential factor for the survival and development of both species involved in the animal kingdom.
Mutualism is a form of interaction between organisms of different species. It is characterized because, thanks to this relationship, both organisms involved benefit, increasing their ability to survive and reproduce as a species.
Unlike the other forms of interaction, mutualism is an essential factor for the survival and development of both species involved.
Other forms of interaction between organisms that differ from mutualism:
Commensalism in which only one of the parties involved in the relationship benefits from it, without harming the other.
Parasitism, which is when one species or organism (parasite or host) benefits from the relationship at the expense of the other party (host), usually harms them.
Predation that occurs when one species feeds on another.
Types of mutualism and examples
Case "Resource - Resource": The two species involved in the relationship obtain the same type of resource. For example, they both get food that they could not get on their own.
Example: Mycorrhiza and Plants
They are the symbiotic relationship between a fungus and the roots of land plants. The fungus receives carbohydrates and vitamins that it cannot synthesize by itself, and the plant receives mineral nutrients and water. Mycorrhiza is so important for plant survival that it is estimated to be present in between 90 and 95% of terrestrial species. The relationship is resource - resource, since both plants and fungi receive nutrients.
Case "Service - Resource": One of the species benefits from a resource and offers a service.
It is the specific relationship between an animal and an angiosperm plant that have flowers with stamens (male reproductive organs) and carpels (female reproductive organs). The flowers that have stamens are those that have pollen, which must reach the carpels of other flowers to achieve the reproduction of the plant.
Certain animals function as pollinators, that is, as transporters of pollen from one flower to the other. Pollinators can be bees, wasps, ants, flies, butterflies, beetles, and birds. Some mammals can be pollinators, such as bats, some marsupials, rodents, and monkeys. This is a service-resource relationship, since animals offer the service of pollination while plants offer the resource of nectar or pollen.
Case "Service - Service": Both species benefit from a service offered by the other.
Example: Acacia and ant
The acacia cornígera is a shrub that can reach up to 10 meters in height. It has large hollowed spines that look like bull horns. Ants live in the logs, feeding on the sugars that the plant produces.
The plant benefits from the protection of ants from herbivorous animals that can eat its shoots, limiting its growth and survival. In addition, the ants eat other plants that are around the acacia.